Woman lives in fear after pet savaged

COLLETTE DEVLIN
Last updated 05:00 01/02/2014
Wendy Skeggs and granddaughter Ava
JOHN HAWKINS/Fairfax NZ
HOUSEBOUND: Wendy Skeggs is too afraid to let her granddaughter Ava, 5, play in the garden after her dog was attacked by the dog next door and had to be put down.

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An Invercargill grandmother says she is living in fear for her family after her dog was attacked and mortally wounded in her own back yard.

Wendy Skeggs said her 13-year-old pedigree Maltese dog had been walking around her garden with her when a boxer dog from next door jumped over the large iron fence.

It attacked her dog, Teddy Parker Lewis, ripping it to bits, she said.

"It bit into his neck and tore his chest apart. He only had three teeth and could not fight back. It was horrific to witness."

Three adults tried to get the boxer off Teddy. A vet had to put the dog down, who Skeggs said was like one of her children.

Even though her large garden was completely enclosed by fencing, she was "petrified" of another attack because her neighbour was a boxer dog breeder and had seven on his property, she said.

She enjoyed gardening but was too nervous to tend her plants and terrified to let her 5-year-old granddaughter, who lives in her home, play in the garden.

"If three adults can't save a dog, how can we save ourselves from an attack."

On the afternoon of the attack, she was hosting a parents' coffee group. There were 10 children under 5 and she was too afraid to let them outside.

She was thankful they had not been in the garden when the attack happened.

"I need to feel safe in my own backyard," Skeggs said.

The incident made her sick and she was upset her neighbour had not even apologised.

"This should never have happened. Teddy should have lived his life tagging behind us."

Skeggs believed the city council needed to be stricter with dog breeders who lived in a residential area where children played.

"They need to check fencing and buildings. A dog registration should pay for safety.

"A breeder should know the temperament of his dogs."

The neighbour, who confirmed he was a dog breeder, said it was a "freak accident".

He left the gate in his backyard open while he went inside to cook brunch.

His stud dog got into the vege patch area, jumped onto a pot of mint and into Mrs Skeggs' garden, he said.

After the attack, he had his dog put down.

"I feel bad enough I had to put my own dog down," he said.

Invercargill City Council environment and compliance manager John Youngson said animal control was investigating the incident.

Although the neighbour had a good kennel arrangement, he did not have the appropriate licence, Mr Youngson said.

Dog owners with three or more animals needed to apply to the council for a special licence and the council would then inspect the living area.

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The council had rules about fencing, which would be looked at during the investigation, he said.

- The Southland Times

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